Posted on November 19, 2021 at 1:44 PM by Guest Author
If you’re a self-published author, building a community of readers can be challenging. Learn how to find, connect with, and engage those who enjoy your work.
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The Value of Building a Community of Readers
It’s a message that bears repeating: Being a successful author requires much more than just good writing skills.
Creating an entertaining story or interesting piece of nonfiction is a big part of it, of course. But if you want to have a career as an author, you must have an audience that looks forward to reading your work.
Further, you need to interact with those individuals and develop relationships with them, turning them into die-hard fans.
There’s a lot to be gained by putting the time and effort into building a community of readers.
Here are just a few of the benefits you can look forward to:
Many authors, especially those who self-publish, have a difficult time with the marketing side of things.
If this is true in your case, you’ll be pleased to learn that building a community of readers early on can make things much easier down the road.
When you forge a connection with those who like your work, they’re more likely to recommend your books to friends, leave positive reviews, and share your posts online. They may even be willing to join your street team and promote new titles.
Ultimately, having such supporters reduces the work you have to do yourself and makes your marketing efforts even more effective.
When you have a community you interact with regularly, you’re able to get insight into who your readers are.
This direct line of communication is invaluable. It allows you to ask questions about your readers and learn more about them.
That way, you can target others who have the same interests and fit the same demographics in your marketing.
Additionally, reading messages from your community and listening to what they’re saying can give you fresh ideas to engage with them further. For example, you can gauge whether they’d want to attend an event, participate in a Q&A, and so on.
Even paying attention to their comments could spark ideas for social media posts or blogs.
Increased book sales
Finally, the obvious advantage to building a community of readers is that it has a huge impact on book sales.
In the beginning, it’s not easy to encourage people to take a chance on your work. But once you locate those who like your writing, you can nurture the relationship you have with them.
As a result, those individuals will be more inclined to buy your books because they like your writing and care about you as an author.
When it comes down to it, engaging with your readers on a personal level by bringing them into a community can do more for your sales and career than virtually anything else.
7 Community-Building Tips to Follow
Now that you understand the value of building a community of readers, it’s time to get to work. The good news is we put together some tips to help you along the way. But before we dive in, there’s one important thing to keep in mind.
Creating a thriving community doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process. Moreover, it’s not something that’s ever really finished, as you must keep existing fans engaged and continue inviting new readers into the fold for the best results.
With that said, here are seven community-building tips to follow...
1) Start as early as possible.
The sooner you start building your community, the better. In fact, many authors have achieved success down the road by bringing people together before even having a book to promote.
The key is to attract those within your target audience by focusing on a shared interest — something that relates to your work.
By offering information, encouraging discussion, and providing the opportunity to explore a topic they enjoy, you can develop a good rapport with potential fans.
Early on in your writing career, you should think about putting together a simple author website. That way, you have a place to house your content, gather email addresses, and allow people to learn about you.
Even if you’re not ready to launch your book, you can use the time to garner interest. Plus, it will likely take a while for your site to gain traction.
2) Discover where your readers are and be there.
Successfully building a community of readers depends largely on being in the right place.
In the beginning, those you want to read your books won’t be familiar with you. So, you need to learn where they are, join them, and develop a presence there.
As you may have guessed, social media is essential to community building. But you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be on every platform. You’ll get the best results by using those that are popular among your target audience.
Start by doing some research on your ideal reader. Additionally, scroll through various websites to see where people are discussing topics related to your work.
3) Offer a lot of value.
A critical part of developing a relationship with readers is to offer value while expecting nothing in return.
Yes, you want them to buy your books eventually. But to enjoy the benefits of having a community of readers, you must think long term.
And that means showing that you care about more than just sales — you care about others’ problems, interests, opinions, and more.
What does this look like?
Sharing interesting articles from outside sources
Offering exclusive content
Discussing subjects from a different angle
4) Make it a two-way conversation.
We touched on this previously, but it’s an important tip worth emphasizing: Encouraging discussion in your community is critical. A community isn’t truly a community if you’re the only one talking.
So, you need to look for opportunities to engage readers and make it a two-way conversation.
Always respond to comments and messages in a timely manner. Further, ask questions about relevant topics to get others’ input. Let those in your community know that you want to know what they think.
5) Keep readers up to date.
As people get invested in you and your work, remember to keep them up to date.
Let those in your community know about events you’ll be hosting/attending, upcoming titles you’ll be releasing, promotions you’ll be running, and more.
You can even share posts on social media and blurbs in your email newsletter about things that have inspired your writing.
Bringing readers into the loop can help them stay informed about what you’re doing. Plus, being “in the know” will make them feel special.
6) Interact consistently.
When it comes to building a community of readers, consistent interaction with members is essential. Often the reason a community breaks down is that conversation comes to a halt.
The last thing you want to do is go long periods without posting, emailing, or otherwise communicating. That extended silence can prompt people to leave.
Here are some things you can do to stay consistent:
Schedule your social media posts.
Respond to comments/questions within 24 hours.
Create blog content at regular intervals.
Send your newsletter at the same time each month.
Set up a time for a group chat every week.
7) Be your authentic self.
Finally, as you begin building a community of readers, remember to be yourself. People value authenticity, and they want to know that the author they’re supporting is real.
So, resist the urge to adopt an author “persona” or act differently because you think that will be more effective. Instead, let people see you for who you truly are.
There’s no question that building a community of readers can do a lot for your writing career. So, if you haven’t done it already, now is the time to start! Just use the tips above to guide you along the way.
And remember — your focus should be on developing genuine connections with those interested in your work. The more you share and engage with them, the stronger the author-reader relationship becomes.
(Need some help reaching new readers and bringing them into your crew? Promote a free ebook in our newsletter to spark interest among potential fans! You can even include a link to your website to collect email addresses and begin nurturing the relationship.)
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